I dtús, ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire go dtí an Teach. I welcome the Minister and thank her for her attendance.
I would like to highlight the issue of the Bose factory in Carrickmacross, which closed in May 2015 with the loss of over 150 jobs to the town of Carrickmacross. Bose had been in Carrickmacross since 1978 and was very successful there but unfortunately it has now transferred its operations to Malaysia and Mexico. Despite attempts by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to find a replacement, no new investor has been found to date. The building is now an empty shell. It is a fine facility which extends to 8,000 sq. ft. of accommodation of both office and production facilities. It has over 200 car parking spaces and it sits on a site area of approximately 7.2 acres.
Indigenous jobs have been the backbone of County Monaghan to date. That has been the history. A few companies have worldwide recognition, namely, Monaghan Mushrooms, a leading light in the production of mushrooms, and Combilift, another name that is recognised worldwide. Unfortunately, all of these companies are under severe threat aas a result of Brexit and the constant and current decline in the value of sterling. There is now extreme pressure on the local economy and local business as a result of this. If ever there was a time in Monaghan for a need to diversify employment, it is now. We are at a critical junction in our history.
An interesting statistic is that in 2014, 85% of leaving certificate students progressed to further education. That is very welcome. Unfortunately, only 24% of those graduates end up getting employment in County Monaghan. That is quite a worrying statistic. Our young people are being educated and moving on and not returning back home again. This statistic is very low by national standards.
I get no pleasure in saying the record of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland in attracting business to the county in general has been very poor. An example of this is that from 2009 to the first quarter of 2016, which is a seven-year period, only four visits have occurred. Four visits in seven years is a sad indictment which is even more emphasised when one considers the location of Carrickmacross. It is less than 45 minutes from Dublin Airport and there is a motorway almost the whole way to Dublin city. It also has good transport links to Belfast. It is a great place to live and housing is very affordable. It has a lot going for it.
I plead with the Minister to redouble her efforts to encourage IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to look at County Monaghan as a viable location for any industry because we are hurting. The facility has being lying idle for over a year and a half now. We are under increased pressure owing to Brexit and the pressures of the declining value of sterling. We are at a crossroads. It is critical that IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland refocus their efforts on trying to get replacement industry into County Monaghan in order that we can counteract the losses we have incurred and the hurt we are going through.
I again thank the Minister for her time and attention. The members of Carrickmacross-Castleblayney municipal district would be delighted to have a meeting with at her earliest convenience to try to progress this issue.